Nonfiction – Secret of the Suffocating Slime Trap

Did you know that the seemingly defenseless hagfish – bereft of fins, eyes, or even a jaw – can secrete a disgusting slime that defeats all predators? Or that flounders have antifreeze in their blood? If those facts sound intriguing, you should run to the library for your copy of Secret of the Suffocating Slime Trap by Ana Maria Rodriguez.

This book is not jut a random collection of “fun” facts about animals like so many other, similar books. Instead, the author take four different animal traits and gives each of them an entire chapter. The interesting fact is presented along with the scientific search that discovered or elaborated upon the finding. So we discover not just that hagfish make slime but also why,how, why that’s important, and how scientists did experiments to determine exactly what was going on.

The format is appealing and child-friendly. There are lots of photographs, though not so many that they get the way of the text. All pictures have clear and concise captions. Most pages also have a separate information box that contains everything from more information about the scientists named in the chapter to the scientific names of the animals in question.

While there is no general overview of biology or a “big picture” look at animals, that was obviously not the intended goal of the book. The success of the book rests upon interesting animals and an intelligent, thorough discussion of how scientists find out more information beyond the knee-jerk “That’s cool!”

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